Kerry Amendment Protects Children, Families Caught In Immigration Raids
Sen. John Kerry introduced an amendment today to offer protections for immigrant families and children who are caught in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workplace raids - like last month's jarring roundup in New Bedford, Mass. Kerry said his amendment was aimed at putting a little "humanity" into ICE. The amendment will be offered to the broader, bi-partisan immigration bill, which Kerry praised as a welcome start toward repairing a broken system.
"We need safe borders and we need a sensible immigration policy," Senator Kerry said. "But there is no place in our country for families being torn apart by reckless ICE workplace raids that separate parents from children and coerce immigrants into waiving their rights. The raid in New Bedford was inhumane. It left young children confused and alone. We need a law that is enforceable and sensible but that also deals humanely with the millions of hard-working immigrant families that contribute to our country each day."
Kerry's amendment would:
o Require ICE to afford access to state social service agencies to screen and interview detainees. A majority of the problems in these raids arose from the fact that the people were too scared or intimidated to provide information to ICE agents. Social service agencies are also better equipped to handle child and family needs.
o ICE must also give sufficient notice to these state agencies so they can arrange for representatives who speak the detainees' first language fluently and for any other services that may be needed.
o To the extent that space is available aliens that are being detained should be to be placed in detention within the jurisdiction of the local ICE field office. Previously detainees, many of them mothers, have been shipped off to facilities hundreds of miles away from their families to await a determination of their status.
o If it is determined that an alien has humanitarian grounds for release including but not limited to those with medical conditions that require special attention, pregnant women, nursing mothers, parents who are the sole caretakers of their minor children or elderly relatives, parents who function as the primary contact between the family and those outside the home due to language barriers, parents who are needed to support their spouses in caring for sick or special needs children, parents whose spouses are ill or otherwise unable to be sole caretaker, and minors, within 72 hours of their apprehension, if they are not subject to mandatory detention or pose an immediate flight risk, they shall be released on their own recognizance, on minimum bond or placed in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP). This gives ICE the ability to track the alien but also allows families to be reunited and aliens to receive medical and social services.
o ICE must also provide a toll free number for families to use after a raid, to report their relationship to a detainee or for more information about the status of their loved one.
o In cases of raids with the apprehension of 50 or more aliens ICE must also allow the aliens access to legal orientation presentations provided by independent, non-governmental agencies through the Legal Orientation program. This program cuts down on confusion and allows the detainees to fully appreciate their rights.